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McClary Bros. is based in the Eastern Market district of Detroit and we handcraft delicious small batch Drinking Vinegars.
Drinking Vinegars, more commonly referred to as "Shrubs", are a Colonial-era drink mixer. We combine organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with fresh, seasonal ingredients and organic cane sugar. The result is a refreshing, exciting mixer that we know you’ll enjoy as a cocktail or shrub soda.
We source out the majority of our fruits, vegetables and herbs from local farmers. These farmers grow in the metro Detroit area and regions throughout the Great Lakes.
Our Vinegars are served or sold in over 1000 locations in 27 states.
Jess McClary first founded McClary Bros., named for her now 7-year-old twin boys Jack & Ben, as McClary Bros. Bakehouse-a home based bakery. “I was in culinary school at the time and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do professionally. Baking was something I’d always been comfortable doing and my husband suggested I just make some products and sell them at a local farmer's’ market, just to see what would happen.” The bakehouse grew steadily and many of the products were made with seasonal Michigan-produce. According to Jess, “Even then, I always sourced local. That’s arguably the one thing that I’m most stubborn about, buying local. I want to shake the hand that picks the fruit.”
Over time, Jess grew to dislike the unhealthy aspects of the baking. She wanted to showcase the local flavors, but wanted to find a healthier method. “I did a lot of research into old-fashioned preservation techniques and when I found Drinking Vinegars (“shrubs”), I had a light bulb moment. I knew I’d found the answer, even if no one believed me yet!”
The very first test batches were done in her home kitchen, Rhubarb and Mulberry. “There are no cookbooks for this sort of thing.” Jess explains, “If you’re a chef you can read through volumes of cookbooks for inspiration and ideas. There is none of that for shrubs. I’ve had to design all of these recipes from scratch-which means they aren’t all winners.” Several tested flavors never came to fruition, but new ones were regularly being developed.
McClary Bros. is constantly evolving. Exploring new product lines, testing new flavors, and developing new partnerships. “I let the fruit tell me what kind of vinegar it’s going to be. The harvest is my inspiration.”
Little known, but super cool, facts about McClary Bros.
-It was the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program that inspired Jess to apply for ABC’s Shark Tank. “Before GS10KSB, I had never once pitched my business. They taught me everything I know and gave me the confidence to get in front of the sharks!”
-Jack McClary, one half of the McClary twins, will proudly introduce himself as “Jack McClary of McClary Bros."
-Ben McClary, the other half of the McClary twins, loves Shrubs but doesn't like sparkling water since he was never given soda when he was younger. He drinks all his shrubs diluted in filtered water. His favorite is Beet & Carrot!
-The whole McClary Bros. team is responsible for the delicious drink recipes that get released. Every month or so the whole team holds a “recipe creation day” where we bring in tons of ingredients and just started playing around until deliciousness is formed!
-You can eat that Drinking Vinegar too. Drinking Vinegars are delicious in salad dressings, marinades and sauces. Let your imagination do the cooking, just have a shrub cocktail in hand while it’s simmering!
-Some of the best flavors almost never happened. Jess explains “I was really busy that fall when I first made a test batch of Detroit Fig Leaf. I didn’t think much would come of it and had ignored it for several weeks. I will always remember the day I tasted it for the first time, my mind was blown! It’s come to be one of our most incredible signature flavors.”
-McClary Bros. are one of the “Founding Member” companies of FoodLab Detroit. As we’ve grown bigger and experienced the aches and pains of growth, Jess regularly leads workshops and programming at FoodLab events to help guide and coach earlier stage food entrepreneurs.
For updates on what’s happening at McClary Bros., follow us on twitter or instagram @mcclarybros or check us out on facebook.
In 2019 a long time family friend and original investor took over the day to day operations as well as ownership of McClary Bros in order to allow Josh and Jess to pursue other opportunities.
Mix. Drink. Repeat as necessary.